The Way Forward
At the American Czêstochowa, this time last year, 2014, the chairman of the Smoleñsk Disaster Commemoration Committee (SDCC), Mr. Tadeusz Antoniak, promulgated the APPEAL TO NORTH AMERICAN POLONIA. Without reservations and by acclamation the APPEAL was endorsed by the Polish Canadians and Polish Americans who participated in the First North American Polonia Conference.
We recall that the APPEAL’S purpose is both general and specific. The general goal is the political mobilization of North American Polonia to build the GREAT PATRIOTIC FRONT. The specific objective is to persuade our elected representatives to hold Parliamentary Inquiries in Ottawa and Congressional Hearings in Washington, DC to correct the record and declare who really was responsible for the Smolensk Disaster of 10 April 2010. The demand for truth and justice for the victims of the Smolensk Disaster is the key component of the effort to promote the GREAT PATRIOTIC FRONT.
The precedent for Polonia’s present action, to urge our elected North American legislators to convene Parliamentary inquiries and Congressional hearings, is based on our past success. In the early 1950s, Polish Americans persuaded their representatives to hold United States Congressional Hearings on the Katyñ Forest Massacre. These hearings reversed the politically motivated verdict of the Nuremberg Tribunals, which assigned blame for Katyñ to Nazi Germany in order to avoid offending Stalin’s Soviet Union, the victor of World War II on Europe’s Eastern Front.
Like the Nuremberg Tribunals, the official Russian MAK Report and its subservient echo, the Tusk Government’s Miller Commission Report, which asserted that inclement weather and pilot error caused the Smoleñsk Disaster, were politically convenient findings, and NOT the truth. These Reports were prepared to avoid embarrassing Putin’s Kremlin for alledgedly perpetrating the assassination of President Lech Kaczynski and all aboard Polish Air Force One.
The MAK and Miller Commission reports were implausible explanations last year, and this year, at the end of March 2015, after the presentation of the Macierewicz Commission’s Final Report to the Council of the European Union, even the Ewa Kopacz Government registered their doubts about the Miller Commission Report, and finally demanded that the Kremlin return Polish Air Force One’s “black box” and pieces from the wreckage. Today, only Putin’s Kremlin, against the facts, insists that pilot error caused the Smoleñsk Disaster.
There has been some progress in alerting members of the United States Congress about the need for truth and justice for the victims of the Smoleñsk Disaster. First, in May 2011, Senator Richard Burr (R-NC), now Chairman and then a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, sponsored Senate Concurrent Resolution 14, after he met with Minister Macierewicz. Senator Burr’s resolution called for the prompt convocation of an independent international commission to investigate the Smoleñsk Disaster. This resolution was a tacit admission that information gathered by United States intelligence services contradicts the findings of the MAK and Miller Commission Reports.
Second, the supreme policy making and governing body of the Polish American Congress (PAC), the Council of National Directors (CND), voted-up a resolution, echoing Senator Burr’s resolution, which called for the prompt convocation of an independent international investigation of the Smoleñsk Disaster. This PAC, CND Resolution was voted-up in April 2012 while the Chicago NATO Summit was in progress. Minister Macierewicz participated in this Summit Meeting.
Third, at a meeting of New Jersey’s Polish American leaders with Senator Menendez in August 2014, just before the Senator departed for a visit to Estonia and Poland and then to the Wales NATO Summit, the CEO of Polish America’s largest financial institution, the POLISH AND SLAVIC FEDERAL CREDIT UNION, Mr. Bogdan Chmielewski, asked the Senator about the Smoleñsk Disaster. Senator Menendez responded that he is open to holding hearings on the Smoleñsk Disaster because the Russian investigation was marred by numerous procedural errors. Earlier last summer, 2014, the Kremlin declared that Senator Menendez, a Cuban American and staunch anti-communist, is personna non grata in Russia.
Fourth, Chairman Antoniak succeeded in persuading his Congressman, Michael G. Fitzpatrick (R-PA 8) to meet with Minister Macierewicz on March 1, 2014. The Minister made a compelling presentation, and Congressman Fitzpatrick agreed to discuss holding congressional hearings on Smoleñsk with his colleagues who serve on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
Fifth, mindful of the Katyñ precedent, the October 2014 PAC, CND voted-up a resolution calling for United States Congressional Hearings on the Smoleñsk Disaster. PAC President Frank J. Spula implemented this resolution by writing to Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), then Chairman and today ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The PAC’s New Jersey Division, led by President Stanislaw Eliwowski, is working with Senator Menendez’s office to schedule Minister Macierewicz to give testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Sixth, on the fifth anniversary of the Smoleñsk Disaster, and following the Macierewicz Commission’s Final Report to the Council of the European Union, the Executive Council of the PAC issued a statement urging the United States Government to use all diplomatic means to support the Polish Government’s recent demarche toward Moscow for prompt return to Poland of Polish Air Force One’s “black box” and pieces from the wreckage of that air plane. After Minister Macierewicz’s recent presentation to the Council of Europe, the transformed communist government of Poland can no longer pretend that the Miller Commission Report is accurate.
In his masterful lecture, 24 February 2015, at Rutgers University, Minister Antoni Macierewicz stated that: “The Smolensk Disaster was the first shot fired by the Kremlin in a new kind of war”. Macierewicz’s observation is the best description of the world historical significance of the Smolensk Disaster in its historical context. In his Rutgers lecture, Macierewicz also made the following telling observations. First, Putin’s Kremlin has been trampling on the rule of law in international affairs since the invasion of Georgia in August 2008. Second, President Lech Kaczynski challenged Putin’s 2008 aggression in Georgia and warned that Ukraine will be next unless the democracies enforce international law. Third, at Smolensk North Military Airfield on 10 April 2010, Putin punished President Lech Kaczynski for supporting the rule of law among nations.
Five years ago, President Kaczynski called on the democracies to put military power behind the principles they espouse and challenge the Kremlin’s resurgent imperialism. For this President Kaczynski was assassinated at Smoleñsk five years ago. This crime without punishment, like Katyñ, can no longer be endured by those who value truth and justice.
That is why we who are present today at the Second North American Polonia Conference must rededicate ourselves to persuading our elected representatives to hold Parliamentary Inquiries in Ottawa, and Congressional Hearings in Washington, DC. By doing so America and Canada will declare to the world the truth about the Smoleñsk Disaster and prescribe condign punishment for those who perpetrated this hideous crime against international order based on rule of law.
We must do today for the victims of Smoleñsk what we did yesterday for the victims of Katyñ. Please visit the SDCC web site to see model letters which you should send to your MPs and Members of Congress. Please forward to the SDCC your elected officials’ responses to your letters so they may be posted on the SDCC’s web site. Those of you here today should encourage your friends to write to their MPs and Members of Congress. Only through such action will the APPEAL TO POLONIA succeed.
By John Czop